Aphex Twin – Donkey Rhubarb EP

June 26, 2008

Aphex Twin

Donkey Rhubarb ep (Warp/Sire 1995)

http://www.mediafire.com/?0bidmzbjzmv

Man, I still am amenable to spending a couple hours listening to Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Every buzz and drone sings to my weary soul. Love it just as much as the day I picked it up from a godforsaken Western PA chain store on the day of its release. Now, I like most of his ouvre, but everything he released after this ep makes me wish he expanded on the themes and ideas located here. Donkey Rhubarbs is the most concise summary of all that was good about Richard D. James before he began giggling in his tank and posing for the Wire with pantyhose over his noggin.

Each of the four tracks represent four sides of Aphex Twin. The last two tracks are perfect summations of his rapidfire take on idm, Detroit techno and acid while the openers explore terrain that was sadly abandoned.

“Pancake Lizard” starts the ep in dramatic fashion. It actually redeems trip-hop as a genre instead of the 99-pound weakling it truly was. Outside of Portishead and possiblly Tricky’s debut, name me one worthwhile trip-hop album. Slowed down hip-hop beats, limp drones and diva rejects abounded in this misguided genre. However, Aphex Twin treats the genre like a soundtrack as he melds the slow-motion drama of Selected Ambient Works and grafts it to a simple, but effective beat that ultimately wields all of the tension trip-hop lacked.

However, “Icct Hedral” is the one that really hurts. Why couldn’t he have explored the world of George Crumb, Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Lalo Schifrin as he does here. This collaboration with Glass is breathtaking and frustrating because he never really delved into classical music in such a way ever again. From the forboding chorus and thick bass to the delicate idm tinkling replicated by a string section, this track shows a side of Richard D. James that could’ve been groundbreaking. Before anyone complains, he did use strings and incorporate elements of classical music into his music, but this track is a grandiose moment that points to what should have been. Instead, his attention span got the better of him and jokey drill and bass was the next step.

2 Responses to “Aphex Twin – Donkey Rhubarb EP”

  1. AuldLangSyne Says:

    Though it does in fact fall two years later in the muck of the “jokey drill & bass”, the Come To Daddy e.p.–the song itself a misstep into late-industrial electro, ends on a fine note with a down tempo number called, “US-IZ”. Besides the serendipital pretty/strange quality found in the best soft-Aphex material, this cut showcases James’ painterly sensitivity for soft percussion. There’s a cymbal being brushed throughout it suggesting a worn surface to the music, but gently. Not so much scratched from abuse, more like subdued in memory.

    But you’re right, he never quite matched the inventive chemistry of Donkey Rhubarb again.

  2. adam Says:

    Selected Ambient profoundly affects me. Always feel like someone has slipped me a psychedelic. Thanks for this.

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